I’m sitting at my desk this morning with my cup of coffee, my emails open, and an urge to slap someone I don’t know upside the head. Why? Because there is this erroneous myth floating around the Internet that self-publishing is the easy way out and it’s easier to succeed at self-publishing your books then going the traditional route.
In my opinion they are both hard routes, just in different ways. The end goals of the two are also different. I’m not going to go into details. It’s not why I’m writing this post.
SPAL has had more than a few self-publishers email us for advice, one of the reasons we started the Writing as a Business series. No, the person I want to slap upside the head isn’t one of these people. He is someone else entirely, He asked another writer a question and when she tried to help him he didn’t really listen to the advice she gave him (outside link), but looked for an easier way to do it.
Self-publishing isn’t easy, It isn’t a straight path to success. Success, of course, being defined by most as a “make tons of money right away” venture. (I don’t define success this way, but I realize most people who go into self-publishing might.) If you think you can just slap up a book on Amazon, B&N, etc. and become the next Amanda Hocking, you are in for a rude awakening.
Self-publishing is hard work. You have to do everything yourself, or hire someone who can, and in a way that can compete with the big boys. From writing the book to book setup to marketing and promoting. Each book should look like a traditionally published book you can find in a bookstore. Yeah, you can hire someone to do some or most of it, but search for someone who can produce quality work.
If you plan to succeed at this business, be realistic. Things take time. You need a backlist of books with each book being the best work possible. Don’t skimp on polishing it up (outside link). Also, keep in mind that not everyone is going to be a bestseller. Even if you do hit the bestselling charts, you won’t maintain it forever and your next book might not sell as well. You can never predict which book will resonate with readers and which won’t. Each book is unique.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a bestseller to make a nice amount of money. With enough good quality books, it’s possible to make a nice secondary income or even your main income. But this is going to take dedication, time and lots of hard work.
It means that you need to be professional in your conduct. Don’t play the games that authors without integrity do. People are watching what you do, and you never know is some unethical action might come to light.
It means pricing your book where the market will hold and you are getting sales you’re content with. While researching what others are pricing their books at be aware that some people can price their books higher and sell. Other price their lower and earn more than when they had higher prices. Experiment and find a place you are happy with.
Special thanks to Ruth for helping me with this post.